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USPTO Approves Amazon Patent For Taking Pictures

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the not-even-on-the-internet-will-save-you dept.

Businesses 152

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Patent Office granted Amazon a patent in March that basically describes taking a picture with a white background. Amazon claims that their method is unique to current photography methods because they can achieve the effect of a true white background without retouching the photo or using any sort of post-processing technique. Some professional photographers disagree, claiming that plenty of prior art exists embodying Amazon's described method and furthermore that this pre-existing method is what the photography industry calls 'shooting against a seamless white backdrop.'"

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Our patent system is totally broken (5, Informative)

Trailer Trash (60756) | about 3 months ago | (#46953749)

Seriously. Did the examiner on this even consider asking anyone who knows anything about photography? I'm not a photographer but I've had my picture taken for "promotional" reasons and already knew about this. I've even created a similar setup here when posting stuff online.

Took me 10 seconds to find this page:

http://www.raydobbins.com/phot... [raydobbins.com]

What, exactly, are they trying to "patent" and why does this examiner still have a job? It's obvious that we need to have crowdsourcing prior art as an official part of the patent process.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46953833)

The patent also lights up the back of the white background. Which in the case of your link, it's not lit. And after all, what they are claiming is that the rear light is what enhances the picture.

But yes, I've seen similar setups before too.

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (2)

pipedwho (1174327) | about 3 months ago | (#46953897)

Like when a studio photographer points an umbrella flash at the white backdrop, or puts a slave flash behind the subject to soften or remove shadowing on the background.

This is definitely an example of an examiner failing in their public duty.

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (4, Insightful)

SuperTechnoNerd (964528) | about 3 months ago | (#46953945)

This is definitely an example of an examiner failing in their public duty.

They are doing their duty. They are making sure that large corps are making plenty of profit, thereby strengthening our economy! Win win for all!

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (3, Insightful)

pipedwho (1174327) | about 3 months ago | (#46954983)

Win win for all ... patent lawyers!

Sadly it is true that they are doing their duty to their customers. Customers who unfortunately are not the general public, but a small conclave of large corporations.

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (4, Interesting)

Frobnicator (565869) | about 3 months ago | (#46956055)

Actually, Amazon claims it was for defensive purposes only.

They noticed that there was very little prior art and they used the process for a huge number of photos on their site. Amazon claims they were concerned that a patent troll would get a patent and then sue Amazon.

In some ways that is a good thing. If their patent was denied for prior art, then it means the patent system (or at least one clerk) understood that there was prior art, and Amazon could have said "We tried to patent it, USPTO denied it, so the troll's patent is invalid."

Instead, since the patent came through, it means the USPTO could have just as easily given the patent to a troll, so it was a hopefully correct action to prevent them from fighting a patent battle later.

Time will tell, but considering the nature of how Amazon has been using its patents, this is probably fairly safe.

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46956149)

Hey boss! I have an idea!

Boss: Go ahead --- Old Tricky Ricky: lets patent everything that is widely used...

Boss: HUH?

Old Tricky Ricky: Lets patent methods used in everyday life that have NOT been patented.

Boss: Hmmm go on, what did you have in mind?

Old Tricky Ricky: We could patent OJ, the term used for Orange Juice, we could patent a rectangle with rounded edges.

Boss::The Patent Office cannot be that stupid!!
 

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954183)

My brother is a patent examiner. When he uncovers something that invalidates a patent application (and he's hard pressed for time. The patent office is over worked, understaffed, and runs on quotas) he's supposed to help the company reword the patent to make it acceptable. Almost no patents are simply rejected. The examiners and companies tweak each patent until it fits.

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (4, Funny)

suutar (1860506) | about 3 months ago | (#46954277)

Where's my "depressing but informative" mod option when I need it?

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (1)

Smerta (1855348) | about 3 months ago | (#46954763)

The patent office is over worked, understaffed, and runs on quotas) he's supposed to help the company reword the patent to make it acceptable. Almost no patents are simply rejected. The examiners and companies tweak each patent until it fits.

I've heard this from 2 EE (electrical engineering) colleagues I went to school with. One of them is a patent examiner, the other is a patent attorney. Of the 3 of us, I think I'm probably the happiest. (I'm you're typical working engineer, although I work for myself, not a corporation. That might have something to do with it...)

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46955299)

Interesting. My brother graduated as an EE as well. He loves the job for it's perks. After being promoted, he moved to another state and has worked 100% of the time at home. No commute == more time with his kids. He's in a better community, has a lower cost of living, and lives closer to all our relatives.

Re: Our patent system is totally broken (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#46955621)

No it's an example of those who set policy failing in their public duty. Money has been paid, the papers approved and the system working as designed.
However the new design sucks immensely for everyone apart from those who can afford to run out the clock in court with patent lawyers. The Apple vs Samsung examples should be enough to demonstrate that.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (2)

jrumney (197329) | about 3 months ago | (#46955177)

Having seen this patent, now professional photographers will now be rushing out to order off-camera flashes from Amazon so they can reproduce the technique. I'd better get in quick and patent my idea of an umbrella like unfolding curved reflector for those flashes to increase the amount of light they throw onto the background, before Amazon gets in first.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 months ago | (#46953861)

That's not even close to the way they are doing it.

But rant on.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (5, Interesting)

thedonger (1317951) | about 3 months ago | (#46954035)

I don't care if no one in history prior to know has taken a photo of someone with a white sheet behind them. Is that really worthy of a patent?

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (2)

gnupun (752725) | about 3 months ago | (#46954967)

Well, professionals who take these types of photos care, outsiders don't care. Maybe you should at least skim through all the patent claims before saying it's just a camera in front of a white sheet.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#46955633)

So more complicated - like a light box used in macro photography since at least the 1920s maybe?

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#46955883)

like a lightbox.... but bigger!
Wait right there, I'm going to patent a smaller lightbox.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (4, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | about 3 months ago | (#46956025)

"Maybe you should at least skim through all the patent claims before saying it's just a camera in front of a white sheet."

As a photographer (and someone that build light boxes) it's a fucking light box with a light BEHIND and AROUND it.

Which I've been building and selling for over a decade. In fact I'm making one for one of my forum admins right now.

Perhaps you should be a photographer before you open your mouth, eh?

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (3, Insightful)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 3 months ago | (#46953935)

There needs to be some sort of appeal or review process whereby the public can object to patents like this and many others that have been granted.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (2)

DRJlaw (946416) | about 3 months ago | (#46954129)

There needs to be some sort of appeal or review process whereby the public can object to patents like this and many others that have been granted.

It's as if Title 35, Part III, Chapters 30 [cornell.edu] , 31 [cornell.edu] , and 32 [cornell.edu] never even existed...

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 3 months ago | (#46954151)

Nobody bothers though.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 3 months ago | (#46954179)

I should elaborate. There should be an easy and open mechanism for objections. The process as it stands is broken and very obscure.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (4, Informative)

DRJlaw (946416) | about 3 months ago | (#46954327)

There should be an easy and open mechanism for objections. The process as it stands is broken and very obscure.

Translation: It should take no knowlege, cost nothing, and preferably involve some charitable group that carries out my wants, unbidden, before I've even appreciated that I have them. Just like in everything else in life.

Rebuttal:

Citation of prior art and written statements [cornell.edu]

"Any person at any time may cite to the Office in writing... prior art consisting of patents or printed publications which that person believes to have a bearing on the patentability of any claim of a particular patent... [and] If the person citing prior art or written statements... explains in writing the pertinence and manner of applying the prior art or written statements to at least 1 claim of the patent, the citation of the prior art or written statements and the explanation thereof shall become a part of the official file of the patent."

That seems easy, open, to cost nothing (but time and a stamp), and not particularly obscure. But then, if you can't be bothered to Google how to submit prior art [google.com] and then read one of the top 5 links, everything is obscure.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954543)

If the person citing prior art or written statements... explains in writing the pertinence and manner of applying the prior art or written statements to at least 1 claim of the patent, the citation of the prior art or written statements and the explanation thereof shall become a part of the official file of the patent."

And then what?

If the answer is "it just sits there in the file" then I can save the cost of a stamp and whine about it on the internet.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (2)

gnupun (752725) | about 3 months ago | (#46955031)

Perhaps it just sits there or perhaps they invalidate the relevant claims, who knows. What we do know is that come litigation time, when the patent holder is suing the patent infringer, the infringer can show your prior art and either reduce his penalty or completely eliminate it and also help other so-called infringers in a patent lawsuit.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

PaddyM (45763) | about 3 months ago | (#46955705)

Well, time and stamp and possibly a 5% royalty to me for my recently patented method of submitting prior art to the patent office in a white envelope. I'm working on the different colors, but that's a trade secret.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

SourceFrog (627014) | about 3 months ago | (#46954519)

No, the entire patent system needs to be thrown out. It's not just broken, it's not really ethical to allow forcibly banning second inventors from independently inventing.

Also, it's not an exaggeration to say the patent system is killing people. E.g.:
- http://archive.mises.org/15365/update-patents-kill-compulsory-licenses-and-genzymes-life-saving-drug/ [mises.org]
- "Why Aren’t There More Cancer Vaccines? Blame America’s lousy patent system." [slate.com]
- A case to abolish patents - Two authors from the Federal Reserve lay bare the patent myths [networkworld.com]

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 3 months ago | (#46954597)

There needs to be some sort of appeal or review process whereby the public can object to patents like this and many others that have been granted.

There is [stackexchange.com] . Also see this [joelonsoftware.com] for some more background information.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46955237)

... and fine the company $1,000,000 for trying to abuse the system.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (4, Insightful)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 3 months ago | (#46953979)

Seriously. Did the examiner on this even consider asking anyone who knows anything about photography? I'm not a photographer but I've had my picture taken for "promotional" reasons and already knew about this. I've even created a similar setup here when posting stuff online. Took me 10 seconds to find this page: http://www.raydobbins.com/phot... [raydobbins.com] What, exactly, are they trying to "patent" and why does this examiner still have a job? It's obvious that we need to have crowdsourcing prior art as an official part of the patent process.

"What exactly are they trying to patent?" -- it says so right there in the first claim, and it's stupid that you spent more time looking up prior art of what you *ASSUMED* the patent was about, rather than actually reading the patent.

They patented the combination of a white cyclorama background, with the object on an elevated platform, the combination of four rear light sources in a particular geometry behind the elevated platform, and some technical tricks to make the elevated platform be imperceptible.

I sincerely doubt that your promotional picture was taken on an elevated platform with four lights behind you and some looking down onto the platform. The website you linked was nothing like what the patent is doing either.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#46954027)

Exactly this. You can, however, achieve exactly the same effect by dozens of minor variations on the theme. 72 mm lens, slower iso (really, 320, WTF?), differing positioning of lights, etc.

While it hardly seems novel or non obvious, it's also so narrow as to be essentially useless.

Color me confused. Or maybe it's just a black and white issue.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (4, Insightful)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 3 months ago | (#46954111)

Claims 2 and 25 aren't that specific...

It's a kind of patent-drafter's game, mixing specific claims (like claim 1) and general claims (2, 25) and then making progressively narrower claims from the general ones (3 -- 24). They do this to cover their bases, to make it more likely to have the patent granted, and to help them have something they can fight in court.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

alvinrod (889928) | about 3 months ago | (#46954195)

It's very likely that there are dozens of other ways of achieving a similar effect, much like there are loads of different designs (and patents) for internal combustion engines.

Even if this patent is worthless in the sense that anyone can get around it, it provides protection for Amazon as it's significantly more difficult for anyone else to sue them for anything related to cameras when Amazon can point out that they received their own patent for the method that they're using which is legally recognized as different from existing methods. Considering the legal fees associated with patent litigation, this patent is far from worthless if it prevents millions of dollars spent fighting a court battle.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

BillX (307153) | about 3 months ago | (#46955613)

It looks like there is only one extremely narrow independent claim (calling out a specific ISO and lens) - claim 1 - but it's a red herring. The real meat of it is Claim 2, which is much more broad and from which every subsequent claim through Claim 24 derives. Claim 25, the only remaining independent claim, is also much more broad.

What they have is pretty standard (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 3 months ago | (#46954143)

There are two possibilities.

1) They're using it for purely defensive purposes.

2) Either it's broad enough to be dangerous to others doing anything similar, or someone else could go and get a bunch of patents on slight variations of light positioning, ISO level, aperture, etc.

In the case of 1, the problem is that it's basically obvious and shouldn't have been patentable. In the case of 2, professional product photographers are in trouble.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 months ago | (#46954161)

Great, but in practice, someone who does the same (and has done for 100 years) will be sued 5 years from now, though their setup doesn't include the elevated platform.

So it wasn't "prior art" because it didn't have the elevated platform, but is actionable because it's close enough to be infringing.

There's nothing wrong with patents. There's just something wrong with obvious ones. White cycloramas are common. Elevated platforms is common. Multiple light sources is common. Geometry is common. If they are patenting that *exact* combination of those common and non-novel devices, then they should also be banned from going after the guy doing the same thing with 6 lights, or any other geometry.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#46954725)

I sincerely doubt that your promotional picture was taken on an elevated platform with four lights behind you and some looking down onto the platform.

Blah blah blah... who cares. You shouldn't be able to patent arranging some lights and positioning a camera. Just like you shouldn't be able to patent swipe to unlock or how you shave your mustache. I know! I always put my french fries on my cheeseburger before I eat it because it makes it crunchy and adds salt. Let's patent that... oh right, I can't because that would be fucking stupid.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 3 months ago | (#46954767)

You shouldn't be able to patent arranging some lights and positioning a camera.

Amazon didn't patent "arranging some lights and positioning a camera" in general.

They patented ONE SPECIFIC arrangement of lights and camera position. Presumably a particular arrangement that they spent a lot of time and effort to achieve, and wasn't obvious to them when they started, and one that they hadn't found documented or explained or taught elsewhere.

When you patent a machine, you're patenting "arranging some gears and positioning some cogs". When you patent a drug, you're patenting "arranging some atoms and positioning them right".

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (3, Insightful)

angst_ridden_hipster (23104) | about 3 months ago | (#46955381)

Yeah, ONE SPECIFIC arrangement that photographers have been using for many, many decades.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (3, Insightful)

Khyber (864651) | about 3 months ago | (#46956047)

"They patented the combination of a white cyclorama background, with the object on an elevated platform, the combination of four rear light sources in a particular geometry behind the elevated platform, and some technical tricks to make the elevated platform be imperceptible."

Oh, exactly like what I've been building for over a decade.

Oh, and there's no particular geometry to overpower shadow. 4 lights? I can do it with two. Make the elevated platform imperceptible? Clear acrylic and oversaturation of the area, or use a white cloth matching the lightbox and oversaturate it and shoot at lower ISO. All of this shit is known to anyone that took a fucking photography elective in high school, and in fact this is EXACTLY what Amazon is trying to patent.

Go back to school.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

DRJlaw (946416) | about 3 months ago | (#46954105)

Took me 10 seconds to find this page:

It took me about 30 seconds to glance at this:

1. A studio arrangement, comprising: a background comprising a white cyclorama; a front light source positioned in a longitudinal axis intersecting the background, the longitudinal axis further being substantially perpendicular to a surface of the white cyclorama; an image capture position located between the background and the front light source in the longitudinal axis, the image capture position comprising at least one image capture device equipped with an eighty-five millimeter lens, the at least one image capture device further configured with an ISO setting of about three hundred twenty and an f-stop value of about 5.6; an elevated platform positioned between the image capture position and the background in the longitudinal axis, the front light source being directed toward a subject on the elevated platform; a first rear light source aimed at the background and positioned between the elevated platform and the background in the longitudinal axis, the first rear light source positioned below a top surface of the elevated platform and oriented at an upward angle relative to a floor level; a second rear light source aimed at the background and positioned between the elevated platform and the background in the longitudinal axis, the second rear light source positioned above the top surface of the elevated platform and oriented at a downward angle relative to the floor level; a third rear light source aimed at the background and positioned in a lateral axis intersecting the elevated platform and being substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, the third rear light source further positioned adjacent to a side of the elevated platform; and a fourth rear light source aimed at the background and positioned in the lateral axis adjacent to an opposing side of the elevated platform relative to the third rear light source; wherein a top surface of the elevated platform reflects light emanating from the background such that the elevated platform appears white and a rear edge of the elevated platform is substantially imperceptible to the image capture device; and the first rear light source, the second rear light source, the third rear light source, and the fourth rear light source comprise a combined intensity greater than the front light source according to about a 10:3 ratio.

Then to look at your linked page and see that this Mr. Dobbins used at most 4 work lights, set alongside the camera tripod, which bounced light off the ceiling and onto the backdrop.

Now you tell me... is the camera between the lights and the screen along the same longitudinal axis? Where are the rear light sources? Any of them?

What, exactly, are they trying to "patent" and why does this examiner still have a job? It's obvious that we need to have crowdsourcing prior art as an official part of the patent process.

Question, meet answer (above). Another thing that's obvious is that you have not read the claims or found anything that's more than background-relevant to whether the idea is patentable or not.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

mrbester (200927) | about 3 months ago | (#46954145)

Prior art: infinity cove. Patent dismissed. End of story. Thanks for playing.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (2)

DRJlaw (946416) | about 3 months ago | (#46954215)

Prior art: infinity cove. Patent dismissed. End of story. Thanks for playing.

No decription of lighting [wikipedia.org] .

Does not anticipate [uspto.gov] .

All limitations must be shown to be obvious [uspto.gov] .

Dismissal reversed upon appeal to the PTAB. Back to the examiner.

Don't tell me the rules of a game I play for a living, son. I know them better than you ever will.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954249)

What, exactly, are they trying to "patent" and why does this examiner still have a job? It's obvious that we need to have crowdsourcing prior art as an official part of the patent process.

As I hold a portfolio of patents that cover all method of asking general or specific questions about patents, I ask that you cease and desist violating my IP, or purchase a license to use my portfolio for a reasonable fee of $5,000.000 per year.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954713)

Buwahahaha... now,just wait for my patents to be approved for "device that allows voice to be transmitted to another similar device", and "device that plays compressed music files"... I will own the world!!!

Patent system is now just spellchecking (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 3 months ago | (#46955601)

Seriously. Did the examiner on this even consider asking anyone who knows anything about photography

They don't do that stuff any more. They check that it fits the rules for submissions, collect the fee and leave it to courts to sort out validity, prior art etc.
It's called "running government like a business". The patent office makes their money and do not give a shit that it's a drain on the economy to move the service they used to perform to the courts.

Re:Our patent system is totally broken (1)

Patent Lover (779809) | about 3 months ago | (#46955909)

What's the publication date of this web page? Is it before the filing date of the application? Does it meet all the limitations of the claims? Try doing that in about 6 hours. There are other reasons to reject the claims but it's not always so simple.

time to Patent useing the sky as a backround (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 months ago | (#46953761)

fees are $0.01 per use.

Re:time to Patent useing the sky as a backround (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46953997)

Time to patent spelling. "useing" - you fucking idiot.

Re:time to Patent useing the sky as a backround (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 3 months ago | (#46954201)

I patent others fixing my spelling you must pay me $0.50

Great! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46953765)

That means my patent for taking photo images with the subject in the foreground of a solid green motif backdrop will surely be approved!

Re:Great! How to evade the Amazon patent (1)

elwinc (663074) | about 3 months ago | (#46954947)

The workflow goes

Start

Activate Rear Light Source

Activate Front Light Source

Position Subject

...

To evade the patent, you could switch on both lights at once!

Or you could position the subject before you turn on all the lights!

Or you could vary the order in many other ways. It's a really stupid patent because it's so easy to evade.

New Patent (1, Funny)

mfh (56) | about 3 months ago | (#46953847)

The way I breathe air and take it into my body is unique. You all have to stop breathing, okay? Or pony up.

Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954019)

You're still breathing, eh? So you've illegally inhaled my patented fart-o-grams released since 1999... I'll take cashiers checks and non-poisonous candy.

Re:New Patent (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 3 months ago | (#46955733)

Sure, just as soon as you describe the process exactly, highlighting exactly what makes your method unique.

Re:New Patent (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#46955903)

Prior art: Your mother.
I have circumstantial evidence she was breathing before you existed.

for the love of god (4, Insightful)

log0n (18224) | about 3 months ago | (#46953887)

Is it going to take violence to get things fixed?

Seriously. The only thing that's going to accomplish anything anymore is outright violence. Maybe then 'the people who need to know' (whoever they are) will start taking notice at the bullshit that's going on in our patent system (hell, any dysfunctional system). Talk doesn't work. Diplomacy doesn't work. The democratic process no longer works. Peaceful protest doesn't work. What else is there? These patents are directly attacking damn near everyone in commercial and professional photography. And when a bullshit patent is used to attack a person's livelihood or their means of supporting their family or their passion, and the result can leave them destitute, how is that any different than a violent attack against that person?

Patenting something like this with this much prior art (fuck photography, anyone who has ever applied 3 point lighting and used the plain white background in 3d studio project preferences has prior art) is outright bullshit.

Re:for the love of god (2)

machineghost (622031) | about 3 months ago | (#46953967)

Yes, let's kill everyone who disagrees with us. History has shown that that approach ALWAYS works ...

Re:for the love of god (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#46954041)

If you win, it always works. Problem is, you don't always win.

Re:for the love of god (1)

log0n (18224) | about 3 months ago | (#46954069)

So what should be done when a corrupt system cataclysmically fails the citizens it represents and all of the methods for fixing that system and addressing those grievances are completely fucked over?

Our entire system is broken and nearly everyone is too busy circle jerking to care.

Re:for the love of god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954137)

If nobody cares it is broken, what definition of "broken" are you using? If your grievances aren't bothering anybody but you, then it sounds like the system is working fantastically well!

Get with the program and game the system if you know it well enough to regulating it, or admit that you are not informed enough about the implications of changing the regulatory structure to have an informed opinion of it's deficiencies.

I too am disheartened by the fact that everyone can't have infinite resources for zero work. The devil is in the details of the administration of the rules of property rights and you clearly can't be bothered to do anything other than complain about the status quo so why should anyone listen to you?

Our political system works better than ever. It's just that never before in history have so many uneducated people felt so confident & comfortable in their own ignorance. We can thank marketing for that one.

Re:for the love of god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954175)

The peaceful solution is emigration.

Re:for the love of god (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 3 months ago | (#46955939)

So what should be done when a corrupt system cataclysmically fails the citizens it represents and all of the methods for fixing that system and addressing those grievances are completely fucked over?

First, you embark on a decade-long series of protests and political movements to express your grievances. Throughout that time, you write hundreds of essays, supported by the most influential and well-educated people in the country. Then you maintain peace as long as possible, allowing the oppressive government to show their nature to potential allies. When violence does break out, make sure that you keep to a very limited amount of aggression, solidifying your place as the underdog. After six years of bloody fighting in the streets and houses of your home villages, facing starvation, torture, and public execution if you fail, if you can manage to hold out long enough for allies to come to your aid, and if you can take advantage of your oppressor's reliance on transoceanic trade, you can finally earn the right to call yourself the United States of America.

Then two hundred years later, the citizens you fought so bravely for can start more violence because they can't be bothered to understand how your new government works, but they do understand that you gave them guns.

Re:for the love of god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954479)

You seem to be under the illusion that you have something to gain for this patent to be in place. Are you an Amazon stakeholder, or are you just shilling?

Besides. If he's only advocating removing those whose job it is to provide benefit to society, and in fact do the opposite with broad streaking strokes consistently and absurdly, I find it hard to disagree with the sentiment. Of course, thinking rationally in these terms doesn't really apply to you. Does it!

Re:for the love of god (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 3 months ago | (#46953981)

Citizen, your identity has been noted. Please continue to provide us with your thoughts.

Re:for the love of god (1)

log0n (18224) | about 3 months ago | (#46953989)

I chose my words carefully.

Re:for the love of god (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 3 months ago | (#46954569)

Yes, we've noticed that you're literate. Have you considered the happiness that lobotomization can bring, citizen? All of those worries about stringing words together in a way that's technically legal while getting your point across will just melt away, and you won't be bothered with sympathy and outrage for other citizens any more! What do you think?

Re:for the love of god (1)

log0n (18224) | about 3 months ago | (#46954855)

You I like :D

Re:for the love of god (1)

zedaroca (3630525) | about 3 months ago | (#46955799)

Yes, let's try to scare the few people that are still talking about the need to do something. That will make the world better.

Re:for the love of god (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 3 months ago | (#46954239)

Is it going to take violence to get things fixed?

We were warned that it would.

Re:for the love of god (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954263)

Money will fix it. Hire more examiners and drop their quotas.

Re:for the love of god (1)

baker_tony (621742) | about 3 months ago | (#46954683)

You American's all have guns to protect yourselves, right?
Put 1 and 1 together here... ;-)

"it's obvious"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46953903)

> It's obvious that we need to have crowdsourcing
> prior art as an official part of the patent process.

Damn you, sir, I was going to patent that idea!

Hmmm... I did this for Christmas pictures at home (2)

0x537461746943 (781157) | about 3 months ago | (#46953909)

I did a very similar thing this past Christmas. I used a white sheet and put a very bright white light bulb behind it. We were dressing up with funny hats and such with the family. It seemed like a very obvious thing to do to get a white background to me. I am no photographer... I just was wanting a nice white background.

Re:Hmmm... I did this for Christmas pictures at ho (5, Funny)

BigSlowTarget (325940) | about 3 months ago | (#46953931)

I'm sure you could mail your payment to Amazon or possibly use a credit card but don't use a 1-click system or other charges may apply.

Silly Peasants (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 3 months ago | (#46953965)

Prior art only exists when it's one of the big guys trying to invalidate or ignore a commoner's patent.

Have patents always been this broad? it sounds as if they were devised to cover *physical* objects which were non-obvious and all that.. but that train of thought has been lawyered (mutilated) to extend to things like math (software), genes, and god damn geometric shapes or colors.

First to file..... (0)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 3 months ago | (#46953971)

I can't wait to patent my revolutionary technique of taking a dump while sitting down.

Douchebag web designer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46953975)

What's with the blockquote text being #888888? Why not make it #FFFFFF and have done with it? Fucking asshole.

Re:Douchebag web designer... (2)

thedonger (1317951) | about 3 months ago | (#46954063)

What's with the blockquote text being #888888? Why not make it #FFFFFF and have done with it? Fucking asshole.

Amazon patented blockquotes with #FFFFFF.

I've got one of these (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | about 3 months ago | (#46953987)

I've got one of those no-horizon white backdrop things, cheapo-style. I saw a big one at a photographer's studio that you could put a whole family on for a portrait. I thought it would be a good idea for shooting ebay stuff, so I "made" one by partially rolling up a large sheet (#102 on the patent diagrams) of white cardstock. And lights. I borrowed everyone's bedside lamps (106, 107, 115, 117) in the house. I just figured I was stealing a standard photographic technique. Didn't occur to me that the photographer whose studio technique I cribbed was one of those unknown geniuses who didn't know what a gold mine he was sitting on.

Re:I've got one of these (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 3 months ago | (#46954065)

Not to worry, then. You did not follow the specific processes in the patent. If you used a 50 mm lens, you're off the hook. If you didn't elevate the lights, likewise. The one thing going for this patent in terms of the ludicrousness of patenting a background in any way, shape or form, is that it is highly specific to their setup.

Slashdot troll (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954017)

The formula for trolling slashdot is simple.

1) Find a recent patent given to a big company
2) Dumb down the claims to the point of being trivial and nearly unrelated to the actual legal bounds of the patent
3) Sit back and enjoy the endless stream of people claiming prior art exists while:
      c) not actually pointing out anything specific
      b) the prior art is comically NOT prior art

Please, let's not feed the trolls by following this formula.

Patent examiners should be liable for bad patents. (1)

InvalidError (771317) | about 3 months ago | (#46954053)

Give them a motivation to actually try to make a half-decent effort at weeding out the obvious and not evaluating patents related to domains they clearly have not got a damned clue about.

This clearly plants a "For Sale" sign on the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954231)

Soon, someone will patent the alphabet, and we'll have to pay by the keystroke.
Have to wonder what the Europeans and the rest of the civilized world thinks of this embarrassing news.
Simply shameful path this country is on...

Does no one on Slashdot understand patents? (2, Interesting)

harvestsun (2948641) | about 3 months ago | (#46954255)

This is NOT a big deal. The patent is very specific, to the point where it would be almost impossible to infringe (and equally difficult to find prior art). They didn't patent "take a picture with a white background.". They patented having a studio arrangement with a background comprising a white cyclorama, captured with an 85mm lens, configured with an ISO settings of 320 and f-stop value of 5.6, with an elevated platform positioned between the platform and background, with front and rear light sources in the longitudinal axis... and it goes on for several pages.

There is NO WAY anyone will be hurt by this patent. It's business as usual. I know you guys love getting mad at big companies, but cool it, you just look silly.

Re:Does no one on Slashdot understand patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954823)

This is NOT a big deal. The patent is very specific, to the point where it would be almost impossible to infringe (and equally difficult to find prior art). They didn't patent "take a picture with a white background.". They patented having a studio arrangement with a background comprising a white cyclorama, captured with an 85mm lens, configured with an ISO settings of 320 and f-stop value of 5.6, with an elevated platform positioned between the platform and background, with front and rear light sources in the longitudinal axis... and it goes on for several pages.

There is NO WAY anyone will be hurt by this patent. It's business as usual. I know you guys love getting mad at big companies, but cool it, you just look silly.

I think i should patent the exact same one except ISO 160 and 2.8.
Then the next person should patent iso 640 f/11.

Re:Does no one on Slashdot understand patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46955023)

There is NO WAY anyone will be hurt by this patent. It's business as usual.

Yes, it's business as usual, that's the problem. It can cost upwards of half a million dollars to defend against a patent infringement lawsuit, even against an obviously bogus patent. How many small photo studios could afford that even knowing they would win? How many times have we seen a very narrow patent slowly mutate over time into a very broad patent using this very strategy.

Why is the USPTO mentally challenged? (1)

Adam Harrison (3610917) | about 3 months ago | (#46954267)

My original Canon Digital Rebel had a feature, where you would shoot a white/neutral item, like a white sheet of paper or a grey card, and the camera would auto-set the white balance based off this. This feature is in many digital cameras. What kind of people does the USPTO hire, that they can not even spot obvious and common cases of prior art, like this? The USPTO does not need reform. It need to be burnt to the ground, and restarted from scratch. I do not think the existing system works,or is salvageable.

Wait, what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954359)

A picture with a white background... sounds like what we've been doing for DECADES, to take ID pictures and what not.

1 click, picture on a white background (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954401)

Amazon are fucking cunts.

Stay out of their overpriced NSA/CIA cloud too. Their entire organization is ran and funded by those agencies covertly from what I've seen.

Cue me (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954613)

This is my cue to remind you that the US is a cesspool of corruption. Indeed, one can only assume that someone is at this moment patenting a system whereby a politician may be bribed anonymously to allow patenting of the concept of corruption.

every major motion picture studio.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954717)

every single studio has a cyke exactly like this set up. if amazon ever tries to exercise this i'm sure the full weight of the Majors will come down quick

Read the patent! (2)

sootman (158191) | about 3 months ago | (#46954925)

The patent is actually for taking a photo on a seamless white background with one click. So, yeah, totally legit. :-)

For those who aren't photographers... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46954973)

This is one of the most basic lighting setups used in photography. It's one of the most common setups there is, and is also one of the first setups a photographer is likely to learn. It's a very old technique.

It's sort of like patenting the application of ink to paper using a pen.

Re:For those who aren't photographers... (1)

macbeth66 (204889) | about 3 months ago | (#46956001)

It's sort of like patenting the application of ink to paper using a pen.

NOOOOO! I have been working on this for years and just sent in my patent application for this. I was sure this would make millions when I solved the problem of the pen leaking when I had it in my front shirt pocket. At this point, the basic solution was to take a Ziploc bag and refit it to the pocket.

Prior Art No Longer Relevant in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46955093)

Now that the US is "first to file" and not "first to invent," prior art is completely irrelevant.

It sounds like this patent is infringing on my (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46955127)

soon-to-be-approved patent on patenting patently stupid patent applications.

Read the claims (1)

Yumi Saotome (470249) | about 3 months ago | (#46955247)

1. A studio arrangement, comprising: a background comprising a white cyclorama; a front light source positioned in a longitudinal axis intersecting the background, the longitudinal axis further being substantially perpendicular to a surface of the white cyclorama; an image capture position located between the background and the front light source in the longitudinal axis, the image capture position comprising at least one image capture device equipped with an eighty-five millimeter lens, the at least one image capture device further configured with an ISO setting of about three hundred twenty and an f-stop value of about 5.6; an elevated platform positioned between the image capture position and the background in the longitudinal axis, the front light source being directed toward a subject on the elevated platform; a first rear light source aimed at the background and positioned between the elevated platform and the background in the longitudinal axis, the first rear light source positioned below a top surface of the elevated platform and oriented at an upward angle relative to a floor level; a second rear light source aimed at the background and positioned between the elevated platform and the background in the longitudinal axis, the second rear light source positioned above the top surface of the elevated platform and oriented at a downward angle relative to the floor level; a third rear light source aimed at the background and positioned in a lateral axis intersecting the elevated platform and being substantially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis, the third rear light source further positioned adjacent to a side of the elevated platform; and a fourth rear light source aimed at the background and positioned in the lateral axis adjacent to an opposing side of the elevated platform relative to the third rear light source; wherein a top surface of the elevated platform reflects light emanating from the background such that the elevated platform appears white and a rear edge of the elevated platform is substantially imperceptible to the image capture device; and the first rear light source, the second rear light source, the third rear light source, and the fourth rear light source comprise a combined intensity greater than the front light source according to about a 10:3 ratio.

If you did all that, then yes, Amazon should sue you.

Re:Read the claims (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46955845)

Yes, but this is the standard M.O. of patent litigation...

First, you make a claim that is so specific (as in the description above) that it would be practically impossible to infringe upon it.
Second, you get the patent based on the ridiculously specific claims made in the application.
Third, you sue anyone and everyone by generalizing your claim to equally ridiculous levels.

So while the claim itself seems impossibly hard to duplicate and would be fairly easy to avoid infringing upon, how soon before we see Amazon suing anyone and everyone for 'taking pictures on a white background' in the hopes of getting a settlement or stifling competition.

It's not like this is the first time a company has done the exact same thing (let alone Amazon)

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